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High Court battle between Goodwin Sands SOS and Marine Management Organisation over dredging

By Sam Lennon

The court showdown over the dredging of the Goodwin Sands dredging has taken place.

Anti-dredging campaigners Goodwin Sands SOS (Save Our Sands) have been eyeball to eyeball with the government's Marine Management Organisation.

The one-day hearing was yesterday and the GSSOS website said: "Our QC gave a very clear and concise account of our challenge.

Joanna Thomson with her legal team Daniel Piccinin, left, and Paul Taylor. They are shown outside court when the judicial review was granted in March. Picture: Goodwin Sands SOS
Joanna Thomson with her legal team Daniel Piccinin, left, and Paul Taylor. They are shown outside court when the judicial review was granted in March. Picture: Goodwin Sands SOS

"The Judge asked probing questions of both sides and quickly appeared to grasp the legal issue at stake, namely that the MMO had not considered the direct impact of the removal of sand on the resultant lowering of the level of the seabed.

"The Judge is deferring his decision as the submissions took all day."

The decision is expected to be announced in the next one to two weeks.

Joanna Thompson, for GSSOS, is the named claimant, the MMO is the defendant and the Port or Dover and Natural England are there as interested parties.

The judicial review in the High Court in London was triggered over the MMO's decision last July to grant the Port of Dover a licence to dredge a small part of the sands near Deal.

The case was brought to the Royal Courts of Justice under the name of GSSOS co-ordinator Joanna Thomson.

The port authority wants to dredge a three million tonnes from the South Goodwins sandbank to for its Dover Western Docks Revival development.

GSSOS is fighting this because it fears damage to the environment and disturbance to war graves.

Leave for the review was granted in March.

This was on the contention that the MMO had not considered the impact of the physical removal of this volume of sand from a designated Protected Feature within the Goodwin Sands Marine Conservation Zone.

The argument is also that it only considered the impact of removal the surface area of the subtidal sand.

Goodwin Sands
Goodwin Sands

The shifting sands were from May 31 given the extra protection of being designated an MCZ by the government.

But the fight to stop the dredging continues as that was licensed beforehand.

The GSSOS website added: "The result of this judicial review obviously has huge ramifications on the success of the Government's Marine Conservation Zone project.

" If a developer is allowed to remove a protected habitat because it is the cheapest option, it makes a complete mockery of the whole protection programme

The pressure group this week reached £20,356 in its legal costs fundraising campaign.

It is tryingto stop the dredging because it fears damage to the environment and disturbance to war graves.

It argues that the Sands are the graveyard fo many shipwrecks and military aircraft crash sites and home ot a colony of 500 seals.

The Port of Dover argues that it only wants to dig 0.22% of the Sands.

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